Annapurna Conservation Area

Lying northwest of Nepal, this region features one of the classic trekking trails in Nepal. The Annapurna Region’s chief attraction is the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri panorama- for climbers and trekkers alike. The journey to and around the region is an atmospheric odyssey, with serene mountains, rusty villages and breathtaking views.

The trekking region sprawls over Manang, Mustang, Lamjung and Pokhara– which undoubtedly offer diverse topographical and ethnical experiences. The terrain varies rising from 709m to one of the tallest peaks in the world, Mt. Annapurna at 8091m, also including lake at highest altitude, Tilicho Tal at 4919m and river through the world’s deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki. The region also features rural Nepal at its best with beautiful and ethnically vibrant villages like Kagbeni. Famous Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage to Muktinath just adds the touch to this already beautiful, challenging and spiritual trip.

The expedition during season is a feast for the eye with rhododendrons spilling over the hills and sights of exotic birds like blood pheasants and multi-colored impheyan. The Annapurna is famous for the rare snow leopards and blue sheep among the different animals that reside there.

Practical Information

Weather:
Annapurna region has two basic climatic regions- the south receives 3000mm of precipitation whereas the north receives as less as 500mm. The climatic conditions are tropical and alpine. The trekking areas are mostly very dry. The best season to visit is before or after monsoon which is February to May or October to December.

Altitude: 
The highest elevation is that of Mt. Annapurna at 8091m. The region also highest lake, Tilicho Tal at 4919m and the highest pass, Thorong La pass at 5416m.

Airports / Helicopters: 
Ensure that your insurance covers rescue service which is usually a chartered flight or helicopter service.

Porters / Guides: 
It is possible to hire porters and guides and especially recommended if you have elderly people or children in your group. While guides know the trails in and out, it may be expected of the porter too, who is hired to carry the luggage. The guide should speak English and perhaps an additional language to your benefit, whereas the porter can normally manage some English. One should verify the authenticity of the guide or the porter and should be on the safer side by doing it through liable agencies.

Food & lodging: 
The Annapurna region has adequate facilities for food and lodge also including hotel resorts and camping sites. An organized trek will stop at different restaurants and it is not difficult for independent trekkers to find places to eat or lodge.

Places of interest

  • Poon Hill
  • Tatopani
  • Kali Gandaki gorge
  • Tilicho Lake: 
    One of the highest lakes in the world at 4920m, this lake is 2-3 days trek from Manang. Snow leopards are said to be rare sights whereas blue sheep and yak are found in plenty. Hotels and lodges are available.
  • Kagbeni/ Upper Mustang: 
    Kagbeni is a sublime Tibet-influenced village and falls on the road to Jomsom. It is also very close to Lo Manthang, the capital of the legendary forbidden kingdom of Muktinath.
  • Muktinath: 
    From Thorong La pass, one descends to Muktinath, the religious haven of the Hindus and Buddhists. Marked by prayer flags, Muktinath hosts a Buddhist ‘gumba’, a Vishnu temple and the temple of Jwalamai (Goddess of Flames). The Jwalamai temple also has hot springs and gas jets that are said to have spiritual effects.
  • Jomsom: 
    Encircled by the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range and underlining the Kaligandaki River and rhododendrons, Jomsom is a compact village at 2800m. It is possible to visit Jomsom via flight but the weather can be pretty dangerous.

Mountains

Annapurna: 
The Annapurna Range consists of six peaks. With Annapurna I at 8091m, Annapurna II at 7937m, Annapurna III at 7555m, Annapurna IV at 7525m, Gangapurna at 7455m and Annapurna South at 7219m, the range can be seen as a idyllic panorama from different locations. All six mountains are among the highest in the world with Annapurna I being the 10th highest. It was first climbed by a French expedition team led by Maurice Herzog in 1950. Annapurna is revered as Goddess of Food or Harvest.

Machhapuchhre: 
Machhapuchhre literally, means fish tail, for the shape of its peak which resembles the tail of a fish. Standing 6933m tall, this mountain is visible even from Pokhara.

Hiunchuli: 
Standing close to Machhapuchhre, it serves as the gateway to the Annapurna Sanctuary. It is 6441m tall.

Food & Accomadation

Being a popular trekking circuit, food and accommodation is not scarce in the Annapurna region. The traditional meal of dal-bhat can be quite fulfilling though Western menus are available at many locations. The food comes around to be more expensive than the accommodation.Generally, people doing the Annapurna Circuit have and average budget of 25$ a day which will be enough to include a few luxuries like an energy bar. Since the Annapurna region covers various districts, people differ ethnically and culturally. It is likely that most of the places you visit will be Tibet influenced.

Notes

  1. Ensure proper gear- clothing, footwear and trekking equipment. A few shops are available in Kathmandu that sell mountain gear. Be prepared for harsh weather and rough terrain.
  2. Make it an environment-friendly trek. Minimize the use of firewood.
  3. Minimize your waste and collect your own garbage.
  4. Be socially responsible trek. Respect the local religion and cultural trends.
  5. Treat your porter or guide with fairness. Remember the obligations you have towards them.
  6. Discourage begging.